5 Apps to Turn Your Beach Photos into Masterpieces

When you’re a small publication, you have to be thrifty. The person writing your stories might be the same person taking photos, editing images and uploading content. You do what you can to make it work. It’s the difference between gently plucking on a guitar or swinging fast and loud with a big band; no matter how many musicians fill the stage, the melody still gets played. 

Juxtapose this idea with the modern cultural need to show ... what we eat, where we travel, how we’re dressed, what we see … and you begin to understand that every resourceful act of creativity soon finds its way onto a public forum, exposed to the discerning eyes of the ever-expanding digital world. 

In Newport Beach, the predilection to show looms most heavily at dusk, when the shoreline becomes a spectacle of iPhones wielded toward the sky. It’s a fun game watching beach-goers attempt to capture the magnificence of the waning sun, angling their phones just so, scoffing at that annoying green dot, which always seems to get in the way of a perfectly formed, puffy pink cloud. 

Like us, these causal sunset watchers become one-person editorial teams, except luckily for them—and you—we know five trend-setting photo-editing apps that’ll give your beach pictures an aesthetically awesome edge.


The app is completely free but the best presets (filters) are available for purchase, ranging in price from about $0.99 to $2.99. Play around with the presets you like best and buy accordingly. You can also sign up for a yearly subscription to VSCO, which costs $19.00 and includes photo tutorials, new tools and presets, and monthly feedback on your creative work by the VSCO community. VSCO is one of the fastest-growing, subscription-based businesses on the planet and its popularity isn’t an accident; the editorial-style filters VSCO provides are almost unmatched.

Processed with VSCO with a2 preset


This app is a perennial favorite for both the amateur photographer and expert, Instagram fiend. Its interface is easy to navigate, its tools are spot-on to fix photographic issues, and the app is owned by Google, so you know it must be good. 

Huji Cam

A photo-editing app for the mysterious but approachable trendsetter. (Selena Gomez uses this one as her Instagram go-to.) Take photos directly in the app or upload from your camera roll; in seconds, pictures are transformed to look just like they came from one of those old, Fujifilm throwaway cameras you got at the drug store. Sun spots, camera flares and even a ’98 date stamp all combine to create a cool, throwback vibe. (Huji Cam is a good option if your sunset photo comes out blurry. Run that baby through Huji Cam and boom. You’ve got an artsy image you can post with a vague caption about the vastness of the ocean.)


This app is useful for photo layouts than it is changing the actual quality of the photo BUT if you’re all about those Instagram stories, Unfold was made for you. The app contains dozens of Instagram Story-sized layouts with frames to share one, two, three or a whole bunch of photos.


This free app allows you to easily add gorgeous illustrations and most importantly, text to your photos. Yes, Instagram Stories has a few font options but for the inner graphic designer in you, can’t you always have more? Get creative, people. Get Over.